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The Montana soccer team, sitting in first place in the Big Sky Conference, will be on the road to face two of its closest pursuers this week when it travels to Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.

The Grizzlies are scheduled to play the Lumberjacks at 8 p.m. (MT) Friday at Flagstaff, Arizona, and the Thunderbirds at noon Sunday at Cedar City, Utah.

Montana, with a successful weekend, could put a stranglehold on the Big Sky Conference standings. With a not-so-successful weekend, the Grizzlies could be as low as fifth place in the league standings come Sunday evening. Montana is 9-5-0 overall and alone in first place in the Big Sky at 5-0-0. Idaho (4-1-1) is a close second, but the Grizzlies hold the tiebreaker with their 1-0 victory over Idaho Oct. 10.

As much of a threat are Southern Utah, 6-4-2 overall, and Northern Arizona, 7-4-2. Both are 3-1-1 in league.

Northern Arizona got back into the race last week with wins at North Dakota and Northern Colorado. NAU won Sunday’s match over UNC on a goal with 10 seconds left in the second overtime. Northern Arizona has scored 17 goals this season. Junior forward Haley Wingender has scored eight of them.

Picked eighth in the preseason coaches’ poll, Southern Utah opened with a home sweep of Sacramento State and Portland State, then played to a 2-2 draw at home with Idaho.

Reach the Missoulian newsroom at @missoulian, at newsdesk@missoulian.com or at (406) 523-5240

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